December 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 November 2008
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Northern Uganda and LRA-Affected Areas

Expected Council Action
A briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army-Affected Areas, Joaquim Chissano, on the peace process between the Ugandan government and the LRA and his future role as envoy is possible.

The Special Envoy’s appointment and mandate and his political mission expire on 31 December.

Recent Developments
At press time the Final Peace Agreement, aimed at ending the 22-year conflict between the Ugandan government and the LRA, remained unsigned by LRA leader Joseph Kony. In early November, stakeholders in the peace process — including representatives from the governments of Uganda and South Sudan, the LRA, UN, AU, donor countries and civil society — met in Kampala and called on Kony to sign the Agreement by 29 November.

Key parties say the Final Peace Agreement, which was concluded in March and awaits only the signature of Kony, “cannot be renegotiated”. Kony has reportedly said he will sign, but will not disarm or disband his forces until the Ugandan government seeks suspension from the Security Council of International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants of arrest against him and other LRA leaders. Ugandan President Yoweri Musevni has said he would only take this action after Kony signs the accord.

The absence of LRA activity in northern Uganda has led to an improved security and humanitarian situation. Half of the more than 1.8 million people internally displaced at the height of the conflict have returned to their villages, while approximately another 359,000 have moved to transit sites nearer to their homes. However, LRA violence elsewhere means the security concerns continue. And lack of services in the return areas and lack of access to land and shelter continue to inhibit displaced people returning home.

While not currently present in northern Uganda, the LRA has increasingly become a regional security threat operating in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and the Central African Republic. In July, an attack against a Sudan Liberation Army barracks left more than thirty dead. Since mid-September at least 52 civilians have been killed and approximately 200 children abducted by the LRA in northeastern DRC, exacerbating the already dire situation in that country. Up to 50,000 people have fled their homes in northeastern DRC. After launching a military operation against the LRA in September, Congolese President Joseph Kabila said he would cease the operation if Kony signs the Final Peace Agreement by the end of November.

In a presidential statement on 21 October, the Council strongly condemned LRA attacks, including the recent abduction of 159 children. It also recalled the ICC indictments against LRA leaders. On 3 November the Secretary-General appointed the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, as his Special Envoy for eastern DRC and said he would work in close coordination with Chissano.

Also on 21 October, the ICC pre-trial chamber commenced consideration of the case against Kony and his top commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, in light of submissions made by Uganda on the status of the execution of warrants of arrest. (Odhiambo and Otti are both thought to be dead after reportedly clashing with forces loyal to Kony in April 2008 and November 2007 respectively.) Uganda’s submissions refer to the establishment in May of a special division of the Ugandan High Court as an alternative to the ICC process. (Under the Rome Statute, the Court can find a case to be inadmissible if a state with jurisdiction is investigating or prosecuting the case in a way that meets ICC standards.) The pre-trial chamber requested the DRC government to provide details of measures taken to execute the leaders’ warrants of arrest by 17 November. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has called for renewed efforts to arrest the four LRA leaders.

Key Issues
The Council has not been briefed by Chissano since June. A key issue for Council members will be to get a sense of the current state of the peace process and the proposed future role of the special political mission.

A related consideration is what role regional stakeholders, Chissano and the Council can play in developing and implementing a new strategy to bring the LRA back to the peace process, or if Kony does sign, to support implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.

A key issue is the continued LRA attacks resulting in civilian casualties, abductions and displacements. A further concern is the compounding effect the attacks are having on regional instability. A consideration for the Council may be what role, if any given the current situation in eastern DRC, the UN and stakeholders in the region could have, particularly in protecting civilians and possibly supporting the execution of arrest warrants.

Another issue is whether sustainable peace will follow signing of the peace agreement and how to manage the related justice and accountability issues, especially if Kony is to be tried before the new domestic Ugandan judicial framework.

Options
In the event the peace agreement remains unsigned, a Council statement condemning the LRA and building on previous statements referring to northern Uganda is possible. Other options include encouraging assistance to the Ugandan government to implement of elements of the peace agreement, particularly the Northern Uganda Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. The Council would also have the option of moving to address the LRA problem as a regional issue and convening a meeting to discuss the full regional dimensions. Options in this regard include:

  • requesting the Secretary-General to develop a regional strategy for coordination and cooperation on protection of civilians and execution of the arrest warrants;
  • supporting creation of a joint monitoring cell combining elements from UNMIS, MONUC and other key stakeholders including UN agencies and the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team; and
  • establish a Panel of Experts to investigate external support for the LRA with a view to recommending measures for the Council.

If the agreement is signed, one option is to adopt a statement welcoming the Final Peace Agreement and the facilitation work done by Chissano and encouraging immediate implementation of the agreement’s provisions. The Council could make reference to its request in resolution 1812 of 30 April, which called for a report on possible measures that UNMIS could take to assist with implementation of the peace agreement between the Ugandan government and the LRA.

A further option whether or not the agreement is signed is to express support for an extension of Chissano’s appointment and mandate and the special political mission. In September the Secretary-General indicated that a continued facilitation role of the Envoy was critical to help the parties overcome current obstacles and create a propitious environment for implementing the future Final Peace Agreement. If the Final Peace Agreement is signed, the Secretary-General would expect the Envoy to play a key role in supervising its implementation. In the event of further delays, the Special Envoy was expected to continue to provide good offices and facilitation.

Another option, albeit unlikely given the fragility of the peace process and instability in the region, would be to terminate the mandate.

The Council could also request an update from the Chairman of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the development of a strategy to increase regional joint capabilities to monitor and report on cross-border recruitment and use of children by the LRA.

Council and Wider Dynamics
While there seems to be wide support, including from the Ugandan government, for Chissano’s efforts, Council members appear now to be waiting for the briefing by Chissano to determine their approach, particularly on his future role. The UK is supportive of early implementation of the Northern Uganda Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. With Uganda becoming an elected member of the Council in January, the LRA issue may become more frequently visited by the Council.

On 21 October the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Uganda and regional governments to cooperate in arresting and surrendering Kony and his commanders charged by the ICC, stressing that peace and reconciliation could not be achieved without justice. It further called on the Sudanese government to stop providing financial and military support to the LRA.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1812 (30 April 2008), 1663 (24 March 2006) and 1653 (27 January 2006) requested reports on LRA issues from the Secretariat.

Selected Security Council Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/38 (21 October 2008) strongly condemned the recent attacks by the LRA in DRC and recalled the ICC indictments against members of the LRA leadership.
  • S/PRST/2007/6 (22 March 2007) welcomed the efforts of Special Envoy Chissano and emphasised support for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Selected Press Statement

  • SC/9167 (13 November 2007) conveyed the Council’s continued support for Special Envoy Chissano’s facilitation role and its views on the security and humanitarian situation in northern Uganda.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.5415 (19 April 2006) was a briefing by the Ugandan government on the LRA.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/409 (23 June 2008) was a report on children and armed conflict in Uganda.
  • S/2006/478 (29 June 2006) was a report on the LRA.

Other

  • S/2008/684 (3 November 2008) was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council advising of the appointment of a Special Envoy for eastern DRC who would work in close coordination with Chissano.
  • A/63/346/Add.1 (22 September 2008) was the proposed resource requirements for the special political mission in 2009.
  • A/63/323 (22 August 2008) was the report of the ICC.
  • S/2008/414 (23 June 2008) was the report and recommendations of the Chief Mediator.
  • S/2007/720 (6 December 2007) and S/2000/719 (21 November 2007) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and Security Council extending the mandate of Special Envoy and upgrading its Liaison Office to a special political mission until 31 December 2008.
  • S/2006/930 (1 December 2006) was a Secretary-General’s letter informing the Council of Chissano’s appointment and mandate.
  • S/2006/861 (3 November 2006) and S/2006/944 (6 December 2006) contained the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and its addendum.

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